Volume 46 Number 48
                    Produced: Tue Jan  4  6:21:34 EST 2005

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Extra Food at the wedding
         [Carl Singer]
Imitation traif food
         [Perry Zamek]
Inherently Traif
         [Batya Medad]
Kosher "traif"
         [David S. Greenberg]
Lateness to Shul/Dan l'chaf zechus
         [Chana Luntz]
Occams razor
         [Akiva Miller]
Refusal to Grant Aliyot
         [Elazar M Teitz]
Turning down being asked to daven
         [Bernard Raab]


From: Carl Singer <casinger@...>
Date: Sat, 01 Jan 2005 21:11:34 -0500
Subject: Extra Food at the wedding

Of course it's preferable that food not be wasted and palatable food be
distributed to the needy.

BUT -- does the food belong to the caterer or to the ba'al simcha?  If
the ba'al simcha pays for, say, 200 sit-down guests and only 150 are
served then there are 50 meals worth of food that he has paid for and
not yet received.  The implications are as follows: it's the ba'al
simcha who must decide what becomes of these meals -- not the caterer.
Hopefully, he will be generous.  Also, the mitzvah and the tax deduction
go to the ba'al simcha as well.

Carl Singer


From: Perry Zamek <perryza@...>
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2005 09:07:49 +0200
Subject: Re: Imitation traif food

Carl Singer wrote:
>Today, I find the same psychological (?) revulsion re: foods that are
>obviously traif.  I couldn't eat / enjoy a kosher "cheeseburger" even
>knowing that it's tofu.  Kosher fish tinted red to look like shrimp is a
>similar turn off for me.  Having grown up knowing that these are traif I
>just can't stomach them.
>(1) I was wondering whether others have the same feelings.

My wife says that she had the same feeling when she first walked into a
kosher burger place here in Israel (not even cheeseburgers). It looks
and feels like the treif thing in the US, so that's what she feels.

I, on the other hand, can do the mental switch - if there's a valid
Teudat Kashrut, then go for it.

BTW, there's a vegetarian burger product now available in Israel that,
when we prepare it, looks and tastes (almost) like the real thing. We
make cheeseburgers with that, and have no problem with it.

All the best,
Perry Zamek


From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2005 06:10:26 +0200
Subject: Re: Inherently Traif

I wasn't thinking of revulsion re: cheeseburger (etc), because they are
very tasty.  I was thinking of all the food coloring and artificial
flavorings involved in making fake meat, or fake cheese.  That's my
personal objection.  The fake stuff isn't healthy.  And when I eat tofu,
it's as tofu flavored with real vegetables and maybe a little tamari or
soy sauce.

When I was becoming religious, we were told that we shouldn't make
ourselves see traif as "physically nauseating," just as firmly forbidden
by G-d.



From: David S. Greenberg <dsg1716@...>
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2005 20:41:27 -0500
Subject: Kosher "traif"

In response to Carl Singer's posting regarding kosher "traif" foods:

While I can certainly relate to Carl's "battery acid" story (thanks to
my pledge period I can no longer even LOOK at a cocktail onion without
becoming nauseated), I find I have the opposite response to these foods.
I am always intrigued by "kosherized" items, and I almost always want to
give them a try. "Pepperoni" pizza has become a favorite of mine, and we
always have a pack of those Morningstar "bacon/sausage" things in the
freezer.  If I had any problem with a tofu cheeseburger, I don't think
it would be related to anything other than the "cheese" tasting lousy.
I guess my own background as a baal tshuvah could be a factor, but I'd
be interested to hear other opinions.

I do find certain traif foods repulsive, like lobster, but I think
that's less due to halachah and more due to the fact that it looks like
a giant insect.  Gross.

I see Carl's point from a chinuch perspective, but as previous posters
have raised, the ideal response according to several commentaries is
not, "traif food - how disgusting," but instead, "traif food - looks
delicious, but HKB"H says no."  Perhaps these foods actually afford a
new means of reinforcing the right philosophy.


From: Chana Luntz <chana@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2005 01:17:59 +0000
Subject: Re: Lateness to Shul/Dan l'chaf zechus

In message <m1CjGLv-000vp2C@...>, Ira Bauman writes:

>I must express my admiration for Chana and her obvious generosity of 

I don't think it takes any great generosity of spirit to be able to
quote a few sources.  To put it into practice, that is another thing,
and I do personally find is an extremely difficult mitzvah to practice,
because it is a classic of the yetzer hora (or maybe just mine) to try
and get me focussed on what everybody else is doing wrong, on the
grounds that since I don't murder/steal/come late to shul whatever, I
clearly don't need to focus on my own improvement.

On the other hand, like everybody (I think, or maybe I like to think) I
find some mitzvos easy and intuitive and automatic, and others I
struggle with and do not find easy, and if I am asking for rachmonos on
those struggles, at the very least I ought to be extending it to others
(which I think is the point of the gemora, and in effect the promise of
it that if one does manage to judge others favorably one will thereby
obtain a similar judgement from HaShem).

>Yes, it is true, as I also pointed out in my posting last month, that
>one should go out of our way to judge L'chaf Z'chut. However there may
>be limits to even that wonderful trait.  How would a person ever be
>able to observe the mitzvah of "admonishing your friend" if he was
>always willing to explain away his friend's consistent malfeasances?

There is indeed a mitzvah to admonish one's friend (Vaikra 19:17) if he
is not conducting himself in the correct way (the Sefer Hachinuch
describes it as "she'ano noheg kshura").  But that presupposes that the
person definitely is acting in a way that is not correct.  Where dan
l'chaf zechus comes in is in not assuming an otherwise kosher person is
acting in a non-correct way unless one is absolutely sure.

I do not think that this means that one is never ever going to be sure. 
It is like the famous story (I think of Rav Nachman of Bratzlav) who saw 
somebody smoking on shabbas and tried a whole range of dan l'chaf zechus 
techniques ("maybe you have forgotten that it is shabbas"? "maybe you 
have forgotten that smoking is assur"?) in the face of what was clearly 
a flat out violation - and then when he could not find any other excuse 
(as they rejected all of these), he tried to find merit in the fact that 
they were not willing to lie.

Mostly, like this story, you will know that somebody is doing something
wrong without any other excuse because they will tell you so (of course
there is the issue of not always believing what the person tells you,
but that is another matter and probably beyond the category of dan
l'chaf zechus).

And it is only once one reaches that level of certainty that
admonishment would seem to come into it.  And the mitzvah of
admonishment is hedged around with a whole host of caveats. Chief among
them are Yevamos 65a "R' Aloyeh said in the name of R' Eliazar bar R'
Shimon Just as it is a mitzvah on a person to say a thing that will be
heard, so it is a mitzvah on a person to not say a thing that will not
be heard and R' Aba said it is an obligation [chova]" - see Rashi there
who explains that this is talking about the mitzvah of admonishment.
See also Orech Chaim siman 608, si'if 2) which discusses when to apply
the principle that if one will not be listened to, it is better that the
person who one would otherwise admonish violate even a d'orisa that is
not explicit in the Torah beshogeg than b'mazid, and hence one should
not apprise them of the issur unless one will be listened to (see there
for when and where this applies). [For those interested, the case under
discussion in that si'if is women who were, it would seem, eating and
drinking right up to nightfall erev Yom Kippur, even though the din of
tosefes [adding a bit of time to the fast] by Yom Kippur is d'orisa, and
the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch is that one should not tell them of
this prohibition, as they will not change their practice, and it will
only mean they are doing it willfully and not in error].

>  Can a Rabbi of a congregation ever try to elevate his flock's level 
>of mitzvah observance, if out of the goodness of his heart he always 
>condones their lack of diligence?  At one point, I think we are allowed 
>to become suspicious and be judgemental.  Where that point is can be a 
>point of discussion.

I think one can attempt to elevate a level of mitzvah observance by 
general education of halacha, without pointing the finger (although even 
general education, as one can see from the above, may at times be 
inappropriate). Any admonishment, as stressed in the sources, must, at 
least at first, be done in private and gently, and must surely follow a 
full ascertainment of the facts, in which the person has a full chance 
to talk about what might really be going on, and where a justifiable 
excuse is assumed as the most likely outcome of such conversation.  I 
therefore do not see a conflict between the two, but rather that the one 
is a precursor mitzvah and the other can only operate where the first 
has been definitely eliminated..

Shavuah tov
Chana Luntz


From: <kennethgmiller@...> (Akiva Miller)
Date: Sat, 1 Jan 2005 22:11:42 -0500
Subject: Re: Occams razor

If I've been understanding the conversation correctly, there seem to be
some people who think that the concept of judging favorably contradicts
the concept of taking the simplest explanation.

That mindset presumes that judging favorably requires us to stretch the
credibility of the situation. I disagree with that. On the contrary, one
who does a good job of judging favorably, will find that his explanation
actually was the correct one.

I came to this realization this morning. I saw a person doing something
which seemed wrong. My first reaction was to judge him harshly, but then
I reminded myself that this person is, in general, a good and straight
Shomer Mitzvos. I then thought up several different scenarios and
explanations which would render his actions permissible or even
commendable. Other people might say that those answers are unlikely, but
I say that if you factor in the idea that he is unlikely to do such a
sin, then my answers become more likely.

Akiva Miller


From: Yakir <yakirhd@...>
Date: Sun, 02 Jan 2005 12:58:50 +0200
Subject: Refusal to Grant Aliyot

David Charlap wrote regarding  Refusal to Grant Aliyot

> This may be all completely true, but ...
> And what if he gets so upset at the "money grubbing Jews" that he
> bad-mouths the Jewish community at home all the time, convincing his
> children to abandon Judaism altogether?  (Yes, this has happened.  I
> have personal friends who abandoned Judaism for exactly this reason.)
> Word of this kind of behavior also tends to get around to the non-Jewish
> community and is sometimes fuel for anti-semites.

Without addressing the issue specifically it seems to me that the above
sentiments themselves do much more harm than good.

I agree that acting "lifnim mishurat hadin" (roughly "with compassion
beyond the letter of the law") is desirable and often more efficacious,
but to claim that to stand up for a legitimate right (of the community)
causes abandoning Judaism and gives fuel to anti-semites says more about
our self image and mind set.

Jews do not cause anti-semitism by making justified financial claims, or
even unjustified ones. Anti-semitism is not solved by "keeping a low
profile and not demanding my rights".

Should a Jew (or shule) refrain from suing someone (Jewish or otherwise) for 
breach of contract because of "what would the Goyim say" ?
Should a Jew (or shule) refrain from suing someone for damages from an 
anti-semitic attack because of "what would the Goyim say" ?

I could use even more demagoguery but I hope I have made my point.


From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Sun, 2 Jan 2005 04:43:34 -0500
Subject: Re: Smoking

<In the latest Efrat magazine, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin discusses the
following question: If one sees a friend smoking, is one permitted to
take his or her cigarette pack and throw it away, or is that Bal

He rules clearly that it is permissible and may be imperative to throw
away the cigarettes, because of the demonstrated effects of cigarette
smoking on one's health.>

        It may not be Bal Tashchit, but since there is no issur to own
something whose use is detrimental to health, it would certainly seem to
be a question of theft or damage to another's property, rendering the
one who took it liable for paying for the cigarettes.



From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Sat, 01 Jan 2005 22:00:01 -0500
Subject: RE: Turning down being asked to daven

>From: Simon Wanderer
> the idea of initial reluctance is, I believe, mentioned in the Gemara
>(Brochos IIRC) and accepted as Halacha.

Both our Gabbai Rishon and I were in our Rabbi's gemarah shiur when we
learned this portion of Berachos, which actually requires that you turn
the Gabbai down twice and make him ask you a third time. About a week
later he approached me to daven and I turned him down with a twinkle in
my eye, so that after a moment's hesitation he understood that I was
just following the prescription of the gemarah. But the next time he
asked me, maybe a month later, my refusal had him really puzzled and
upset. It seems this particular prescription (I don't know how many
Rabbis will call it halacha) just doesn't "play" in the modern world
where people are expected to mean what they say and not "play games" (at
least in the U.S.; maybe in some parts of the world this form of
negotiation is still understood).

b'shalom--Bernie R.


End of Volume 46 Issue 48